What To Wear To The Vatican – The Vatican City Dress Code Rules You Need To Know!

There’s no ‘official’ dress code when visiting The Vatican. Instead, we recommend dressing appropriately for the religious site and respect of the country itself. Along with dressing appropriately for the weather and the activities you have planned during your visit to the Vatican.

For example, if you’re visiting a museum you might feel uncomfortable in a vest top. Therefore consider bringing something to cover your shoulders or to change into. While there is no ‘official’ dress code it’s important to remember this is a religious site which holds great importance to so many.

The Vatican Dress Code

While there is no official dress code there are some items of clothing and outfits styles that are unfortunately not accepted. These are mostly due to shoulders and knees on show. As the Vatican is a Holy site in the Catholic religion and so it is key to respect that. These rules apply to both men and women.

Items of clothing that not accepted in the Vatican are:

  • Mini Shirts/ Short Skirts
  • Shorts above the knee
  • Lowcut clothing
  • Hats
  • Sleeveless garments

What To Wear To The Vatican

Again we want to remember that the Vatican is a religious site and is worshipped as such with many people all over the world. This to me is like going to temples in Thailand and covering my legs and shoulders. The principle is the same, so here are some ideas on what to wear to the Vatican.

If you are planning your outfits for this beautiful trip away to Italy but want to visit the Vatican you may just want to include something modest to wear. This doesn’t have to mean you go out and buy something new it can just be adapting something you have in your suitcase already.

Summer is the hardest time to work out what to wear to the Vatican as it is hot, sticky and sweaty. There are a number of ways you can dress appropriately without overheating. The most important part of deciding what to wear to the Vatican is remembering that both the shoulders and knees should be covered. No hats, they can be removed as you enter the Vatican and stored in a bag.


Working out what to wear to the Vatican can be so much harder for women than men. I wish it wasn’t but it is… Anyway remembering that you are more than likely going to want to be comfortable walking around and cool in the summer sun, here are my helpful ways to dress appropriately for the Vatican.

Also if you feel your chest is a little on show you can add on a light scarf to cover, repurpose it for the rest of the day outside the Vatican as a headscarf.


Dresses are going to be a popular choice for women on holiday in general, even much so in such a romantic place like Italy. Deciding what to wear to the Vatican can be simple and easy once you know what your restrictions are.

Go for a short sleeve dress that flows past the knees. If you only have strapless or strappy dresses look at adding on a small shawl or cardigan over the shoulders to create that modesty. Also, jumpsuits are a great way to wear something comfortable but also modest.


Anything that covers the shoulders, isn’t see through or sheer is deemed as appropriate. You can easily team up a basic tee with a pair of long length shorts, flowing skirt or under a dress to give your shoulders the overage it needed.

Blouses are also a great way of creating modesty and looking pretty cute and smart. There are so many lovely blouses that can give your shoulders the coverage they need along with being quite cooling on a hot day.


Linen trousers are a great summer choice for city holidays in general. Even better for visiting religious sites and monuments. There are other loose trouser styles that are popular that would help keep you cool and modest on your trip.


I honestly own short shorts and no skirts so I would have to find an alternative for this category. If like me you only travel with short shorts then look at creating a skirt with a shawl to go over the top.

If you are packing ahead of your trip and came across this article for help then if you are interested in wearing shorts or skirts there are so many options out there. As long as the shorts/skirt aren’t sheer or above the knee, you will be able to wear it while exploring the Vatican.


If like me your dresses and tops are sleeveless you can choose to use a shawl, jacket or cardigan style to cover your shoulders. This can just be during your visit to the Vatican.

When packing your bag and deciding what to wear to the Vatican you can dress as you would for every other day of your vacation but add in your bag a shawl, cardigan or jacket to cover your shoulders when you reach the Vatican.


Men are a little simpler to plan for as the options in clothing aren’t as broad. There is still the challenge of finding clothing that is going to be cooling in the Italian heat.


T-shirts are a straight forward choice for many and still a great option when choosing what to wear to the Vatican. Remember not to pick anything too thick in the summer months as you will over heat. Go for pure cotton blends as they will be kinder to the skin in the heat.

Shirts are a great alternative as they are generally pure cotton and easy to wear in the heat. These can also be a great autumn/winter option but in long sleeved. Remember the shirt needs to cover the shoulders to pass into the regulations to get into the museums and St Peters Basilica.


There aren’t many shorts that go over the knee for men and unfortunately are hard to find. If you have a pair that do go over the knee that is great as they aren’t something that is common.

If you don’t have any shorts that are appropriate then you can turn to trousers but this doesn’t mean you have to sweat in the heat all day. You can find great thin and easy to wear trousers for summer. Linen blends, sports trousers that have the zip of legs are great and khaki styles. These will be easy to wear, cooling in the summer heat and look good on your holiday pictures.


Though there is no actual ban of any types of footwear I would suggest wearing trainers or pump style shoes. Though flip flops and sandals may feel like a great option remember you will probably be doing a lot of walking so you want to be comfortable.

That is everything on what to wear to the Vatican. I hope you found this helpful and got you prepared to visit the beautiful country. If you have been to the Vatican and got to explore all the sights I would love to know what was your favourite.

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